Kofi Annan has been the head of the UN for ten interminable years. On his watch we have seen that once hopeful body degenerate into blatant corruption and repeated shirking of its supposed mission. But Kofi has left his indelible mark as a parting gift as he heads of into long overdue retirement. The new and improved Human Rights Council. When this new bequest of Kofi's can't even fool the US media, it is truly a disaster.
When the Human Rights Council was approved by the General Assembly in March, we were among the skeptics who doubted that it would be much of a change, mainly because the membership rules still allowed for the election of human rights violators. As it turned out, we were wrong: The council, which completed its second formal session last week in Geneva, has turned out to be far worse than its predecessor — not just a "shadow" but a travesty that the United Nations can ill afford.
For all its faults, the previous U.N. commission occasionally discussed and condemned the regimes most responsible for human rights crimes, such as those in Belarus and Burma. China used to feel compelled to burnish its record before the annual meeting. The new council, in contrast, has so far taken action on only one country, which has dominated the debate at both of its regular meetings and been the sole subject of two extraordinary sessions: Israel.
Western human rights groups sought to focus the council's attention on Darfur, where genocide is occurring, and on Uzbekistan, where a dictator refuses to allow the investigation of a massacre by his security forces. Their efforts have been in vain. Instead, the council has treated itself to report after report on the alleged crimes of the Jewish state; in all, there were six official "rapporteurs" on that subject in the latest session alone. One, Jean Ziegler, is supposed to report on "the right to food." But he, too, delivered a diatribe on Israeli "crimes" in Lebanon.
This ludicrous diplomatic lynch mob has been directed by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which accounts for 17 governments on the 47-member council and counts on the support of like-minded dictatorships such as Cuba and China. Council rules allow an extraordinary session to be called at the behest of just one-third of the membership, making it easy for the Islamic association to orchestrate anti-Israel spectacles. Several Muslim governments that boast of a new commitment to democracy and human rights — including Jordan and Morocco — have readily joined in this willful sabotage of those values.
I had earlier noted the distinctly Islamist bent of the final session of the council. This is Kofi's signature reform. His bequest to the world. An anti-Israel time bomb ticking away with UN support. A body saturated with hate that is supposed to be looking at the human rights of the world's governments and is, instead, a rubber stamp for anti-Semitism and a free pass for dictatorships. Welcome to Kofi's bequest to the world.